Poland was made an independent state by the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, gaining independence from the defeated Imperial Germany. Nazi Colonel Oskar Steinmann later expressed the view that the terms of the "draconian treaty" were merely intended to punish Germany, and that it was to the detriment of the millions of German people who lived in Poland. (PROSE: Just War, AUDIO: Just War)
Throughout the 1930s, Adolf Hitler led Germany to reconquer numerous European territories. The reoccupation of the Rhineland led Winston Churchill to fear what Hitler's intentions were towards the rest of Europe, most immediately Czechoslovakia and Poland. (PROSE: Players) However, Churchill's warnings were initially not taken seriously. (PROSE: Log 384)
Prior to the invasion, Germany approached the Soviet Union and agreed upon a treaty of friendship. Although Hitler loathed communism and intended to one day attack the Soviets, he prioritised Poland and a possible related threat from the west. The treaty stipulated that Poland be divided between German and Russia, with Hitler hoping it would keep the Soviets off Germany's back for a time.
Joseph Goebbels' propaganda machine presented Poland as the aggressor. German newspapers reported inflammatory headlines such as "Warsaw threatens bombardment", "Unbelievable agitation of Polish war madness" and "Poland against peace in Europe", none of which was true. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus) Colonel Fischer genuinely believed Poland was a threat to Germany which had to be neutralised for the good of the country. (AUDIO: Human Conflict)
Eventually, Hitler claimed that the Polish had carried out an attack on Germany soil. The war in Europe formally began on Friday, 1 September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. Hitler announced his declaration of war in a speech to the Reichstag:
I am wrongly judged if my love of peace and my patience are mistaken for weakness or even cowardice. I have therefore resolved to speak to Poland in the language Poland uses to us. Last night, for the first time, Polish soldiers fired on our territory. We have been returning the fire. From now on, bombs will be met with bombs!The Matrix noted the invasion as a part of the Web of Time. (AUDIO: Neverland)
International reaction Edit
After Germany annexed Austria, the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia in 1938, the United Kingdom and France guaranteed aid to Poland in the event of a German attack. The two western nations had failed to offer substantial resistance to Germany's occupation of these territories. Hitler believed, therefore, that they would back down again over Poland, a view that was reinforced by his sycophantic advisers. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus) Indeed, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, had displayed a lack of resolve at the negotiations over the Czechoslovakia crisis and played into Hitler's hands. (PROSE: Illegal Alien)
Before the invasion, Hitler asked the Seventh Doctor how Britain would react. Attempting to prevent the creation of an alternate timeline in which Germany won the war, the Doctor told him the truth, hoping to steer Hitler's actions down the correct course of history. The revelation that Britain would resist created a deep burst of anger which caused the Timewyrm, dormant in Hitler's mind, to awaken her powers before Hitler lost consciousness.
On Sunday morning on 3 September, Britain had not yet responded to the invasion and Hitler became confident his belief had been vindicated. However, at 9 o'clock, Joachim von Ribbentrop and an interpreter named Schmidt arrived in his office in the Reichschancellery in Berlin with an ultimatum handed to them by the British Ambassador, threatening war unless German forces withdrew from Polish territory within two hours. Hitler had expected just a meaningless letter of protest, but now faced with the real thing, he sat silently for a while, then asked, "What now?" Ribbentrop answered, "I assume the French will hand in a similar ultimatum within the hour."
Enraged that his advisers had given him incorrect information, Hitler shouted Ribbentrop and Schmidt out of the room. The Doctor stayed and was able to calm down Hitler when his anger began to unleash the Timewyrm again. In doing so, Hitler inadvertently learned how to control the Timewyrm. Ribbentrop, Martin Bormann and Hermann Goering then appeared with news from the Polish front. With renewed confidence, Hitler crumpled up the ultimatum with orders to inform the British Ambassador that the demands would not and could not be met. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus)
The 11 o'clock deadline passed and Britain and France declared war on Germany. Neville Chamberlain delivered his own speech to the British public over the radio, announcing the news from 10 Downing Street:
This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.Chamberlain's declaration assured that the war would spread and grow, signalling the true beginning of World War II. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus)
At the German declaration of war, troops flooded across the Polish frontier and made quick progress. However, on the day of Britain and France's declaration of war, just as Hitler was considering the British ultimatum, his advisers appeared with news of setbacks at the Polish front, Warsaw having not yet surrendered. After giving his orders to reject the Allied ultimatum, Hitler left to take personal command of the Polish campaign until the setbacks were satisfactorily resolved.
With his newfound control over the Timewyrm, his own abilities and strategic planning was greatly enhanced and the setbacks were quickly overcome. The Germans resumed the advance towards Warsaw. Satisfied that victory was now assured, Hitler returned to Berlin to deal with the coming showdown with the Allies in the West. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus)
According to Oskar Steinmann's propaganda, the German troops were cheered upon in Poland due to their commitment to unite the world under the strong ideology of Fascism. In reality, Poland was subjected to a harsh military rule that would soon spread across the rest of continental Europe. (PROSE: Just War)
A number of men in the Polish forces tried to escape the country. Among them was Pilot Officer Jan Ostowicz, who had to leave his family and friends behind after fleeing to Romania, then France and finally to England. He was joined by Wilhelm Rozycki and a number of other Polish pilots. (AUDIO: Their Finest Hour)
In October, after the invasion, Germany offered to continue negotiations with Britain and France, which was refused. As a way of painting the Allies as the aggressors in the conflict, Nazi propaganda stated that the war did not begin with the invasion of Poland but with the Allied declaration of war and subsequent refusal to negotiate peacefully, thus forcing the war to continue. (PROSE: Just War, AUDIO: Just War)
Poland was the first of many European countries to fall to the Nazis in wartime. Germany subsequently took the war to Western Europe in 1940, launching the Blitzkrieg ("lightning war") against Denmark, (AUDIO: Human Conflict) Norway, (AUDIO: Their Finest Hour) Britain, France, Holland and Belgium, wiping them all aside, save Britain, (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus) and conquering the continent. (AUDIO: The Ultimate Adventure)
The exiled Poles wanted revenge for what the Nazis did to their country. The pilots who escaped to Britain were initially looked down upon by the Royal Air Force for the Polish Air Force's poor performance during the German invasion. However, the Poles proved their mettle during the Heliyon crisis on 27 August 1940 and on the following day were allowed to enter the fight against Germans alongside the RAF in the Battle of Britain, (AUDIO: Their Finest Hour) in which the Germans were ultimately repelled. (PROSE: /Carpenter/Butterfly/Baronet)
This western theatre of war was a distraction from the primary Nazi aim. It was Hitler's intention that, after invading Poland, Germany move into Russia, then Persia, then India, then Asia and the Far East. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus) Hostilities between Germany and the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front (PROSE: The Shadow in the Glass) opened in 1941. (PROSE: Just War, Losing the Audience)
In 1944, the Nazis in Poland used Wenceslas Mine in the Sudeten Mountains as the test site for "Project Chronos", using inmates from a nearby concentration camp as a labour force. At the experiment's end, the workers were murdered and SS General Hans Kammler fled Poland with die Glocke in a U-boat bound for Neuschwabenland in Antarctica. (PROSE: The Crawling Terror)
After the end of the war in 1945, with the onset of the Cold War, Poland remained under communist domination (AUDIO: The Curse of the Fugue, COMIC: The Broken Man) after numerous Eastern European countries were conquered by the Soviet Union. Many Poles stayed in Britain as exiles, along with Germans, Austrians, Russians, Hungarians and Yugoslavs. The more politically-inclined, such as Oskar Dolinski, joined freedom movements hoping to one day liberate Poland from Soviet rule. (PROSE: Endgame)